Saturday, July 7, 2018

Finish-Along Quarter 3 Goals

I’ll be in Africa when the linkup for the goal-setting post for the 3rd quarter Finish Along goes live. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I will find some access to wifi so that I can link up this post and participate.

For me, this quarter is going to be focused on finishing up so many projects that have been started over the last year or two. I really want to clear out my queue, or at least greatly whittle it down, so that I can focus on Christmas sewing and new projects come winter. Therefore, this list is ambitious.

1.  Let it Snow

This is a project I’ve had on and off on my lists for two years. I’m going to finish it this quarter! I’ve finally bought a cute hanger for quilty wallhangings in the living room. So now I have a place to hang it (when the time comes) and incentive to finish it.  This is a Heather Mulder Petersen pattern and the fabric is Kate Spain. I still love it, which is a good sign.

2.  Linked Squares.

This picture shows three pink blocks, but I’ve completed 18 out of 20 blocks in all colors. I just need to make 2 orange blocks when the RSC color of the month is orange and sew all the blocks together without sashing. The quilt will finish at 64x80 and probably become a donation quilt.

3.   All You Need is Love.

There is a lot to do on this quilt; more of the pictured blocks in dark blue, light green and orange. Then a black and white checkerboard row and then the 54 pink hears (already made), and a final round of some 8” block that I haven’t even selected. The quilt will eventually be for my daughter, but it's a long shot for this quarter.

4.   Orange Lozenges

I’ve been working on this project a bit recently and it’s farther along than this. I’d love to have it done for fall.

5.   Apron for myself.

I need a new apron badly, and with the summer and fall harvest, I’ll be spending more time than usual in the kitchen. So this is a priority for me.

6.  Aqua Donation Quilt

I whipped up this cute little top last month with charm squares and some leftover neutral fabric. It just needs to be layered, quilted and bound.

7.  Bowties Quilt

The collage shows some of the bowties I’ve been working on, by color, for the last year. I think I have less than a dozen left to make, then I can begin assembly of the top. The colors will be mixed, but I haven’t decided yet on a setting.

8.  Groovy Guitars

My husband Bruce has been so patient waiting for this quilt of his. I still have some hand sewing to do on it - stitching down those small yellow and green circles. Then I will need to quilt it; a simple stipple for the black areas, lines for the guitar necks (to mimic strings) and ??? for the guitar bodies. This is a high priority for this quarter. 

9.   Farm Girl

Now that this has (finally) been stitched into a top, the rest will be easy. It needs to be layered, quilted, bound.

10. and 11.

These embroideries are with me on my trip to Africa. I plan to work on them during the looooong flights from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam to Nairobi and back again. I have no specific plans for them yet. 

12.  On Ringo Lake

I joined Bonnie Hunter’s annual quilt-along last December and made great progress until BAM! The steps came right on top of each other near the end, and I got behind. Then the Rainbow Scrap Challenge started up in January, and this has been tabled ever since. I’m not sure I’ll get to it this quarter. However, if I finish up lots of the other goals, this should at least move up on the list!!

And those are my goals for the third quarter of 2018. Fingers crossed that I can link up and make good progress!

Red Hot Sewing

It’s July, and that means a new color - RED - for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. We’re sewing our red fabric scraps and linking up with Angela’s Scrappy Saturday post. Come join us!

Tomorrow I’ll be leaving for Kenya for 12 days on a trip that combines humanitarian projects (Days for Girls, ribbon cutting of a new community center, distributing hundreds of wooden toys from Tiny Tim’s Toys) and pleasure (3-day safari during the great animal migration). I’ll be taking lots of pictures, writing in my journal and getting to know as many lovely Kenyans as possible. I’m so excited that I can hardly sit still!

But sit still I did, earlier in the week, in order to churn out as much red scrap sewing as possible. Nervous energy! Here’s what emerged from under the needle....

One Linked Squares block. It’ll finish at 16”. Only two orange ones left to go...

Six 4.5” red bowties. I think I’ll only need a half dozen orange bowties, then I can begin assembly of this RSC quilt.

Lots of selvage squares: 12 at 6.5” and 2 at 4.5”.

Quarter log cabins galore. Sixteen of them at 6.5”.

All I have left to do are the Squared Away sampler blocks, which I plan to work on today since I’m all packed and ready to leave. And then when I get home in a couple weeks I’ll still have all the crumb blocks to work on.

Oh! I also sewed up six cute Christmas tree blocks for the Block Lotto’s July drawing. Coincidentally, they also feature red (with cream and gray or black). These were really fun! The link to the pattern is HERE.

Our garden is going gangbusters, and we have been enjoying the last of the rhubarb (now done), spinach and peas (both done), the butter lettuce (still going), lots of crookneck squash and the cherry tomatoes are just coming on.  I was able to get enough apricots from the tree to make two batches of apricot jam this week, and they are safely in the freezer.

The cats weren’t too crazy about all the fireworks for the 4th of July, but they did love the patriotic quilts I’ve had out. Here Darla models the one I made last year. I have one of Alfie snuggled in the quilt, too, but can’t find it at the moment. But Darla says the picture of her is better anyway.

See you in a couple weeks!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July: One Monthly Goal

Welcome to July - the second half of the year already!! And even though I will be out of the country for almost half the month (going on a humanitarian trip to Kenya), I know I will still have time when I get back to knock out a quilt (she said, perhaps overconfidently....)

Last week I pieced together many of my Farm Girl Vintage blocks from Lori Holt’s 2015 quilt-along. I had been procrastinating on this one because my finished block sizes - it was one of my first major projects - varied by a half inch. But now that I’ve got a a few years and finishes under my belt, it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  So here it is, a finished top. And the backing is already pieced (one long seam, it was easy) and waiting.

My goal for July is to get this quilt basted, quilted and bound.  

Since I’ll return on the 20th and probably spend Saturday the 21st sleeping and/or suffering from jet lag, I may not get started on it until the last week of the month, but it’s still very do-able. Unless I return home to a huge mess. DH is staying home to work, tend cats and the garden and “batch it” (play the bachelor) while I’m gone. Seriously, though, I’m only kidding about the mess. However, I do expect to return to a needy hubby, cats and lots of produce to put up!

Linking up to the July goal setting OMG linky party at Elm Street Quilts.
Saturday, June 30, 2018

Totaling Teal and Aqua and Turquoise....

Today is the last day of June, and time to recap our scrappy work on the aqua family of colors for the month.

The following collage shows most of what I got done for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. For more colorful scrappy goodness, hop on over to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday blog linky party.

This month I completed:
4 Bowtie blocks
3 Linked Squares blocks
17 selvage squares @ 6.5”
6 selvage squares @ 4.5”
2 Squared Away blocks
13 Quarter Log Cabin blocks
2  “lollipop blocks” @ 6.5” (forgot the picture!)
7 crumb blocks
for a total of 54 blocks

By accident I included the mostly-aqua baby quilt top I made this month instead of the lollipop blocks.

Weight-wise, I gained instead of losing this month. I was up almost four pounds over two weeks, but have lost half of that already. I’ve been so busy that I was not being mindful of what I was stuffing in my mouth, nor have I had the time (or weather) to walk outside as much as I’d like. I finally had a DUH! moment - if we can use the mall for walking in the morning in the winter because outside is too cold, we can also use it in the summer when the weather is too hot. *facepalm*  But the temporary gain was a good wake-up call, and I’ve put the brakes on! No more snacking on popcorn all afternoon. There are so many great fruits and veggies available now. Back to walking - my clothes fit better. It’s hard keeping it all together (imagine me juggling lots of balls) as I prep for my Africa trip - just one week away! - but I can do it.

My last post, by the way, for those of you who just visit for the RSC linkup, showed my finished Farm Girl flimsy and the current garden shots. You can visit that HERE.

DGD Lauren
Today is my son Shane’s birthday but since he doesn’t read my blog (what self-respecting 30-something son would read his mom’s blog, right?), I’ll save the birthday wishes until we head out for dinner tonight at Red Lobster. The choice of restaurant has become sort of a tradition, because his daughter (my DGD London) always loves to look at the live lobsters in the tank, and then she and grandpa (Bruce) name them all.....

And in a few minutes I have a travel training online meeting to attend. We’re getting down to the wire. I’ve started gathering my packing. We got the last of the large suitcases this week but are still waiting on the Tiny Tim’s toys (wooden toys) that we will use to fill a couple of them. We (me, DIL Kim and DGD Lauren) are each allowed two 50-lb suitcases. The toys will fill 20 lb in each of ours. The rest of my suitcase(s) weight will be taken with flannel fabric for the Days for Girls operation in Narok, personal care items, Instax film (like polaroids), and puzzles. On the way home, we can fill them with souvenirs - African fabric and other items bough in the markets.  This cute picture is my DGD Lauren and some of the toys and bracelets she’s made from little colored rubber bands to take for the kids we meet in Kenya. Isn’t that awesome??

Have a great week!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Just Call Me “Farm Girl”!!

Yehaw!  It’s been a hot and busy week here, and the theme around our little homestead (all .25 residential acres of it, LOL) has been farming.

Let’s start inside where the air conditioning belies the heat outdoors. I got a wild hair this week to pull out a well-aged UFO and stitch it up. Don’t ask me why - I guess I’m just sick of my UFOs nagging me.  These Farm Girl Vintage blocks date back to 2015 (I could’ve sworn it was longer....) when Lori Holt published her Farm Girl book. Anyway, I have way more blocks than would ever fit in a single quilt, so I picked my 30 favorites that were left (some I used in my Autumn Sampler quilt) and finally tackled this beast.

I call it a beast because I’ve been dreading putting it together. All I can say is that my piecing accuracy has greatly improved over 3 years. These blocks that were supposed to be 12.5” unfinished, actually ranged from 12” to 12 1/2”. I had to sew little strips on a couple to make up the difference that I couldn’t cover with the sashing. But I did it, and I can’t even say it’s even close to the worst quilt top I’ve ever pieced, LOL. Seriously, it measures 70x84” consistently. Whew, I dodged a bullet. It also helped that I decided to forgo cornerstones...

The backing is a cute farm-y print that I picked up from Connecting Threads for $2.76 per yard about 18 months ago. The five yards were the perfect amount that enabled me to sew a backing with just one vertical seam. Now, both the top and back will go onto hangers in my stitching room closet until next quarter.

Part 2 of this Farm Girl saga is a tour of our South Forty. That’s the south 40 square yards of our backyard, LOL. I may have mentioned that we’ve been feasting on spinach and lettuce over the last couple weeks. This week we’ve added peas and yellow crookneck squash to the mix. We could add apricots if there were more than 23 on the entire tree, LOL. No, I didn’t really count them....  But the birds are getting most of them because they are too high up for us to reach, even with the ladder.

I was hoping we’d get enough so that I could make one batch of apricot jam, but at this point we’d settle for each munching on one unblemished apricot that falls to the ground without bird pecks on it. Yeah, that one above looks nice, doesn’t it? But you ought to see the reverse side....

So, look at the growth! Those in the front left are tomatoes. The early girls are in the lead, naturally. They’re about the size of a small plum, but still green. That’s OK. I’m hoping they hold off until I get back from Kenya around the 21st of July. Maybe, maybe not.

The grape vines have covered the trellis nicely, giving us lovely deep shade on the patio. Of course, most of the time it’s too hot now to be out there between 11am - 7pm. But we do have the occasional cooler morning or evening, and we love to eat out on the patio when we can.

Here is a picture of the crookneck squash. There are three in the picture below, and they will be the next ones to be ready, probably in 2-4 days. We are having the very first one, already picked, with our chicken mole’ (the Mexican dish, not the varmint, LOL) for dinner tonight.

And here are the peas and the Tom Thumb butter lettuce. We get our seeds from Cottage Grove (Oregon) Seed Company, and they say this lettuce is their staff favorite. It withstands the heat well and is mild and delicious. For many vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, tomatillo, onions, potatoes), we use starts from local nurseries.

The spaghetti squash are already growing like.... squash. Since scale isn’t obvious in this picture, you’ll just have to believe me when I say this one is already about 7” long. Most of the other ones are smaller, which is good. I’m hoping that they too will hold off for 2-4 more weeks.

My newly-planted coneflowers are blooming. The picture below should be considered proof of Truth in Gardening. See those weeds all around the rock? They were not there when I pulled weeds on Monday, three days ago. I shudder to think of how many weeds I’m going to have to pull when I get home from vacation...

And here are the flower pots along the front walkway. Someone asked me (when the comments feature was broken) what Talavera was. These pots are Talavera - Mexican folk art. I love the bright colors patterns.  In the neighborhood, we are known as “the house with the colorful flower pots”.

And here’s a view that shows all the pots, the walkway, some newly spring-planted perennials to fill out some of the front beds, and the green (some) and parched (some) grass. Again, Truth in Gardening.

And speaking of parched, I’m going to go treat myself to a diet root beer float (a glass of Diet A&W root beer with a scoop of Halo vanilla ice “cream”). Two Weight Watchers smart points.....  I’ll see you back here on Saturday for my scrappy sewing June roundup.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hooray - Blogger is Fixed

FINALLY!  We are once again receiving comments in our email. YAY! I always love and appreciate your comments and am so happy that Blogger has restored our ability to receive and respond to them. Blogging without two-way conversations is like living in a vacuum, so let the chatter commence!

Last week I said that I’d finished all my regular teal/aqua blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. But that didn’t mean I was finished with the color yet. A few years ago I had purchased a charm pack of Kate Spain’s HORIZON line and I decided that it was time to do something with it, since it was mainly aqua.  So I whipped out some additional scraps and an oatmeal-colored neutral (not my fave) and whipped up this baby quilt top:

After this picture, I fixed that wonky bottom border and then pieced a backing. And that’s as far as I’ll take it for now. It will be a quick process to baste and quilt it for donation when the time comes.

While checking out Pinterest or Instagram (sorry, can’t even remember where let alone who) I saw a great block that used scrappy crumb blocks. Since I’ve been making 6.5” scrappy crumbs all year without a plan, it was good to finally have the perfect plan for them:

I just sashed them with a black 1.5” strip, and they will finish at 13”. So, as time permits, I’ll go back and begin combining the smaller crumb blocks into these larger blocks. Going forward into next year, I’ll make the smaller blocks (or finish up a color) in sets of 4.  With what I have already, they could be assembled into a baby quilt, but I would prefer to go bigger. So, that’s the plan for these crumbs.

And there is lots more aqua inspiration over at Angela’s Scrappy Saturday. Come join us!

And speaking of baby quilts, AB Baby was gifted to my step-daughter Stacy on Tuesday afternoon, just before she left for her OB doctor appointment.  The doctor told her she was already dilated to a 3, and the next day (Wednesday the 20th), she felt achey and unsettled. Then the labor started and WHAM! Baby Evie was born within a couple hours. She came so quick (18 minutes after Stacy got to the hospital), that no epidural was even given. And here is the little cutie herself:

Isn’t she adorable? I love the little cap with a bow that the hospital uses to keep their heads warm!  Mom and baby (6 lb. 13 oz) are back at home and doing great.

The preparation for my trip to Kenya (leaving July 8) is continuing. This week we had another online meeting/travel training. We won’t be taking any blow dryers or curling irons, so I think I’ll get my hair trimmed again just to keep it short and simple. And after price shopping for the required malaria pills, I was able to get them (21 days’ worth) for $50.60 instead of $125+. Our Kenyan visas have been approved, and all our plane flight seating assignments have been secured. Oh, and I got some support hose (YUK) for the loooong flights.

I also prepped some handwork (embroidery) for the long plane flights. Last month when Cousin Kim and I went to the quilt show, I bought a few 8x10 (ish) embroidered designs. This week I cut and stabilized some fabric, then pressed the designs on. This is a new-to-me product by Adorn-it, and one is just supposed to stitch through the design layer. Then the design sheet melts away with a quick soaking. We’ll see how that works - it was an alternative to marking the design directly on the fabric.

All I have left to do now are pull the threads to bring along. My granddaughter Lauren, whom I’ll be sitting with on the flights, loves flamingoes. So I’m hoping she takes an interest and maybe even give embroidery a try. Just in case she wants to, I’m packing two designs and two hoops.  Muahahahaha.  Method to my madness.....

And finally, more work on Groovy Guitars happened.
I had originally planned to do an all red border, but didn’t have enough of the red - or any other single color for that matter. So, the border was constructed of all the colors except purple.

Here it is in all its carnival-like goodness.

All the machine appliqué is complete. I even did all the large round circles on the machine.

All that’s left to do by hand are the 24 small yellow circles (on the blue and red headstocks) and the three small green circles on the small middle-isn guitar.

Here are some close-ups.

My goal is to have the hand stitching done before I leave for Kenya. Then when I return, I’ll still have about 10 days left in July in which to finish the quilt by layering, quilting and binding. My plan right now is to quilt the background in a black stipple. The guitars will need quilting, too, but I’m not certain yet how I’ll proceed there. Certainly I’ll match the thread to the colors. And then just perhaps some shape echoing or simple crosshatch.

Thanks for dropping by!
Friday, June 15, 2018

Teal Zeal

I guess I could’ve titled this post Aqua-something or Turquoise-something, since those are all the colors (not blue but not green) that we’re working with for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this month. But it’s summer and I’m lazy, so there you have it. Teal.

My scraps this month are tamed as much as they’re going to be. Lots of nice chunks got put away to use for next year or for when I decide what other teal/aqua/turquoise blocks I’ll need for other WIPs.  For now, here’s what I finished up this week to share.

I made 13 - 6” (finished size)  quarter log cabin blocks. It always seems as though I have an odd number of these blocks when I make them. 

This month there will be no birds sewn because that color is not represented in my Birds in the Lattice quilt. So, the final blocks for this month (unless I begin a new project) are my 6” (finished size) crumb blocks. I got seven of them before the smaller scraps ran out, and really didn’t want to cut down any bigger chunks.

So, that leaves me a couple weeks to twiddle my thumbs sew on other things. So, just for the sheer joy of piecing (because I already had all the orange lozenges and a large pile of black and another of white 1.5” squares), I worked on these lozenges.

I was sewing these into 3x2 blocks, then sewing those together. Only I kept going and somehow got the starting colors reversed. But this is still early days in this quilt top, so it will be easy just to add to the bottom part before proceeding. And that little lozenge in the second row, fourth from the left - that has got to come out. That fabric needs black corners. But that, too, is an easy fix. Anyway, I’m liking it. I don’t know when we will have orange month for the RSC - hopefully not next month when I’m gone for half the month - but I plan to work on this pretty heavily this year in order to finish it up by Christmas. It’s already 2 years old. At least 90% of the cutting is done. 

And then, guilt struck. Bruce’s poor Groovy Guitars flimsy shamed me mercilessly (“Having fun piecing, are you? What about me? I need to be appliquéd!"). And finally when I found one of the tiny purple circles that represent a tuning peg, I caved and switched gears yet again.

You may recall, the top looks like this:

After reattaching the errant purple tuning peg, I began hand sewing those down. That was no fun. Well, it was, but the other larger pieces are not taking well to being scrunched while I hand sew. So, I actually began machine appliquéing them down. All the blue parts are done, and now I’ve started on the yellows. They’re done with the exception of one seam.

The very fine thread I bought for the appliquéing of Groovy Guitar didn’t work out. It was just too fine. Originally this was meant to be a wall hanging, but Bruce wanted a useable quilt. So I expanded the edges and filled out the guitar shapes, adding headstock motifs, etc. to make them all float on a larger black background. The fusible, per the instructions, was not lightweight, but a lighter medium weight. It has changed the hand of the pieces and I hope it will soften after washing. But at this stage, using a fine thread was not cutting it. So, I’m back to my 50-weight Aurifil and it is behaving admirably.  

Today I’ll finish up the yellow and do the orange and perhaps move on to the green and purple. I’d like to be able to sit down and enjoy some slow stitching of all the tiny dots once everything else is secure. Then I’ll probably add a red border. My goal is to get this ready to be basted by the end of July. 

This garden photo was taken last Monday, and the garden has grown even since then. The various squash plans (left side, middle area) all have blossoms now, as do the tomatoes and the tomatillo. We’ve finished up the radishes (“we” meaning Bruce, because I hate them) and are feasting regularly on spinach. And I’ve been making lots of rhubarb-strawberry compote for the freezer to enjoy during the off-season.  

And the white climbing rose in the middle on the back wall is now blooming mightily. It’s lovely to sit out on the patio and see it all!